On the run, Snowden turns to lawyers for help

Man walking by a poster of Edward Snowden in Hong Kong

Edward Snowden is getting advice and support from an eclectic bunch, ranging from a constitutional lawyer to a former Russian spy.

After leaking information about surveillance operations, Snowden has been on the lam. And since arriving in Moscow on 23 June, he has been in legal limbo.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would grant Snowden asylum in Russia - so long as he agreed to stop leaking US secrets. Snowden has meanwhile requested asylum in at least 19 countries.

Snowden is now considering his options, with Venezuela as a possibility. Here are the legal experts and activists who are helping him make a decision about his next move.

Julian Assange standing at the Ecuadorean embassy
Julian Assange

Title: Founder, Wikileaks

Relationship to Snowden: Provides advice and support

Where he can be found: Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has sought refuge after Swedish authorities asked to speak with him about allegations of sexual abuse

Childhood home: Townsville, Australia

Start Quote

He [Snowden] is a hero”

End Quote Julian Assange Wikileaks

Education: University of Melbourne, where he read maths and physics

Career highlights: A self-described cryptographic engineer, he told a reporter for Time magazine that he "set up one of the first free-speech [Internet service providers] in Australia". He founded Wikileaks in 2006.

What he reads: Slammed Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen's The New Digital Age in a New York Times review, saying the book "mirrors State Department institutional taboos and obsessions".

Social network: Fans include Lady Gaga, Oliver Stone and Vivienne Westwood. He once dated - and may still - a member of the Wikileaks legal team, Sarah Harrison.

In his own words: "He [Snowden] is a hero. He has told the people of the world and the US that there is mass unlawful interception of their communications, far beyond anything that happened under Nixon.''

Bruce Fein

Title: Constitutional lawyer

Relationship to Snowden: Lawyer for his father, Lonnie Snowden

Where he can be found: Washington DC

Education: Harvard Law School

Career highlights: Associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan

Likes: Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Social network: Senior policy adviser to Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign

In his own words: "The purpose of engaging me wasn't simply to have his son come back. It was also, 'What can we do to walk away from the precipice of a leviathan state where nothing is private anymore and which operates in the kind of secrecy we associated with China or Russia?'"

Portrait of Baltasar Garzon

Baltasar Garzon

Title: Legal director, Wikileaks

Relationship to Snowden: Declining to serve officially as his lawyer, Garzon has nevertheless helped to shape his plans for the future

Where he can be found: Madrid

Childhood home: Andalusia

Education: Seminary, and later law school

Career highlights: As a judge in his native Spain, Garzon issued a warrant for the arrest of Chile's former leader Gen Augusto Pinochet. In 2012, Garzon was suspended from the judiciary for more than a decade after he was found guilty of abuse of power for ordering illegal wiretapping of lawyers.

Likes: Jean-Paul Sartre

In his own words: "The Wikileaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden's rights and protecting him as a person."

Sarah Harrison standing in a crowd of people in London
Sarah Harrison

Title: Member, Wikileaks legal team

Relationship to Snowden: Provides advice on where to seek asylum

Where she can be found: The transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport

Education: Queen Mary, University of London

Career highlights: Former journalism intern and researcher. Started working for Wikileaks in 2010.

Likes: Wikileaks' Syria Files, according to a presentation she gave at the Frontline Club in London in July 2012

Social network: Hangs out with Assange - and paid £3,500 (about $5,200) for his bail before he hid in the Ecuadoran embassy

Michael Ratner

Title: Lawyer for Julian Assange and Wikileaks

Where he can be found: New York

Education: Columbia Law School

Career highlights: President emeritus for Center for Constitutional Rights, which has assisted in the cases of Guantanamo detainees and sued Bush administration officials over interrogation policies

Likes: Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which is about "a man who was jailed for no reason and went out and got revenge", Ratner told a New York Times reporter

Social network: Daniel Ellsberg, who disclosed the Pentagon Papers, and the late William Kunstler, a lawyer who represented 1960s radicals such as Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Abbie Hoffman

In his own words (about the prosecution of Pte First Class Bradley Manning): "It's ironic in a trial that is about the government keeping secrets that they aren't providing documents that are not classified and should be public."

Anna Chapman holding a microphone Anna Chapman says she has fallen for Snowden

These legal experts and activists are not the only ones who are trying to help Snowden. He has also received an outpouring of support from people around the world.

One supporter, Anna Chapman, the spy who was caught in the US and sent back to Russia, expressed her admiration on Twitter.

"Snowden, will you marry me?" she wrote.

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